Another modern Gothic, another iteration/ripoff of JANE EYRE. This time it’s Errol Flynn, unswashing his buckle in the brooding Rochester spot, and Barbara Stanwyck as the rather mature Jane figure. The twist is that ‘Jane’ shows up at the gloomy mansion not as a naive tutor, but as the strong-willed widow of our tale’s unseen character. You can’t miss the template, and neither could Warners, who had Franz Waxman, a vet from REBECCA/’40, the modern faux JANE EYRE, write the score. Director Peter Godfrey lays on the Neo-Gothic chiaroscuro like a DIY homemaker overdosing on appliqué, but he does pull off a few scary bits. Taken on its own terms, and conceding a regrettable lack of connection between its leads, it’s not half bad. The real point of the film may have been Warners’ attempt to find modern roles for their expensive, troubled male star. Period films were so costly! Audiences didn’t respond, but in a brief, deeply creepy seduction scene, you can see what a cunning actor Flynn could be when he put his mind to it.
DOUBLE-BILL: Playing the tightly-wired sister of Stanwyck’s mysterious husband, the film did a poor job ‘introducing’ Geraldine Brooks and her film career was brief. But two years later, in THE RECKLESS MOMENT/’49, the great Max Ophuls showed exactly what they had hoped to get out of her.